Saturday, April 7, 2018

Slog to Providencia

Mr Mac anchored of the beautiful Providencia hills

After our time in San Andrés, it was time to move on. Actually, it took two tries to get out of SA. Our first attempt was thwarted by the winds and seas. We thought we could slog through the 50+ miles to the northeast, but it only took us twenty minutes outside of the San Andrés lagoon to realize that it wasn’t to be. The second shot a week later worked – better weather, we left a couple of hours earlier than previously, and we staged by anchoring in the outer anchorage so we wouldn’t have to weave our way through the crowded inner anchorage in the dark (since we left at 4 am). Seas were only 3-4 feet, totally doable. The wind was brisk and we were sailing along at up to 6.6 knots…just not in quite the right direction. Consequently, we were fifteen miles out when we came abreast of the island midafternoon. Slogging to the east, we managed to arrive before sundown. The well-placed and well-lit channel markers would have made it possible to enter after dark if necessary, but we never like to do that until we know an area. Luck was with us, and we dropped the anchor beneath the verdant hills of the island just before sunset. Beautiful day and beautiful destination.

Providencia waterfront

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Throwback: Panama City (Panama, Not Florida)

The new high-rise Panama City dwarfs the old Casco Viejo (colorful Biodiversity Museum in the foreground)
We were down in the lock on a boat just the day before this!
View from our hotel of a ship heading toward the canal
Old church ruin
I’d mentioned in a previous post that we served as line handlers on a boat transiting the Panama Canal from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Since we ended up in Panama City, we decided to spend a few days to see the sights. The first impression is of height – this place is jam-packed with skyscrapers. Our interactions with those were limited to watching them pass by the taxi windows, preferring old and quaint to tall and glassy. We stayed at a Country Inn & Suites, recommended by friends because of its canal-side location so one can watch the ships beginning or ending their transits. The Bridge of the Americas, which arches over the canal, was visible from our window. The first day we caught an Uber up to the Miraflores Locks to complete our bilateral perspective – one day looking up from the canal to the visitor center, and the next looking down from the visitor center to the canal. The exhibits were terrific with all kinds of information about the digging of the canal. There were innumerable delays and hassles and heartbreaks, such as the deaths of so many workers, particularly of tropical diseases before they got the mosquito infestation under control (as under control as is feasible in a tropical jungle, that is). However, the construction also resulted in innovations required to physically complete the task. We also learned about the running of the canal through history, and about the new locks built to accommodate megaships that had opened just six months prior to our visit. The next day we visited Casco Viejo, the old city. Situated along the bay, we shifted our attention between the impressive views and the spectacular old buildings. Some have seen better days, while others have been beautifully renovated. We strolled the narrow streets, stopped at a cute little restaurant for a cold drink to ward off heat stroke, toured some fantastically ornate churches (one exhibiting an enormous nativity scene of an entire little village, complete with lights), and bought a mola (the traditional decorative fabric work made by the Guna Yalas of the San Blas islands) from a couple of Guna Yala women in the marketplace (for half the price it cost us to get a mola while actually in the San Blas). Later, we ventured into the modern sector of the city to the Multiplex Pacific Mall, as modern a mall as you’ll find in the states, to catch a movie. The theater was really nice, with stadium seating steep enough that you had no problem seeing over the person in front, and you got to choose your seats (no random seating here!). We finished our visit by taking the Panama Canal Railway back to Colón. Winding through the jungle and alongside the canal, we rode in comfort in elegant car, sometimes stepping out onto an open platform to get pictures. A lovely way to end a couple of fun days.

Ornate altar

Us on a balconey in Casco Viejo with the modern city in the distance

The Casco Viejo marketplace

Beautiful stone building

Elegant Panama Canal Railway car